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Lotus Evora S Specs Suspension Top Speed Rebates Color Price List and Review

Monday, March 21, 2011

Behind the wheel of the new, supercharged, 172mph Lotus Evora S – the car that threatens to take the Porsche 911's spot at the top of the class.

Lotus Evora S review
There's an awful lot going on at Lotus at the moment. So much so, that the plethora of promised new metal – Elan, Elise, Eterne, Elite and Esprit – has completely overshadowed the ongoing development of what is at risk of becoming the forgotten jewel in Hethel's crown: the Evora.
First unveiled at the 2008 British Motor Show, the two-seater or two-plus-two coupé seemed to deliver almost perfectly on the promise of being a grown-up Elise. Sure enough,when it was launched a year later the mid-engined car instantly became the benchmark for ride and handling, and the darling of the UK motoring press, scooping a handful of Car of the Year gongs.
It wasn't, however, faultless. Build quality was patchy, ergonomics disastrous and the combination of 3.5-litre V6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox from Toyota's Camry saloon simply didn't match the Evora's dynamic high points. The car Lotus built to take on Porsche's Cayman and 911 needed more if it was to topple the Germans.
The "more" is the car you see here: the new Evora S. That's S for Supercharged (in this case a Harrop HTV 1320 unit), which takes power of the V6 from 276bhp to 345bhp at 7,000rpm, while torque swells from 258lb ft to 295lb ft at 4,000rpm. Couple this to the fact that at 1,437kg to Evora S remains a relative lightweight, and you've got enough to propel you from a standstill to 60mph in 4.6 seconds and a 172mph maximum.
For reference, a basic Porsche 911, with an identical 345bhp manages to sprint to 62mph in 4.9 seconds and maxes out at 180mph. The Porsche costs from £64,256, while the Lotus weighs in with a £57,550 asking price (rising to £58,995 if you specify your Evora as a two-plus-two to match the Porsche's layout).
Two things to note at this point: firstly, that the S carries a £9,000 premium over a standard, naturally aspirated Evora, and secondly, that Lotus's options list is a far more affordable hunting ground than that offered by Porsche. Fully specified – as our test car was – with heated seats, satnav, reversing camera, and optional 19- and 20in wheels with Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres it came in at £67,770. Given the performance on offer that seems not at all unreasonable.
Ah yes, the performance. On a spectacular test route that ran around a series of hills in southern Spain, the Evora S soaked up what crumbled tarmac we could find among the perfectly surfaced, glass smooth roads in an impeccable manner. This is despite Lotus carrying out a mild fettling of the Evora's suspension (revised damping, new front upper wishbones to increase castor angle and a rear anti-roll bar boosted in size by 0.5mm) to cope with the extra power, plus fitting those larger wheels. Never does the Evora jar over bumps or throw its occupants around uncomfortably. Rather it glides, sending an uninterrupted stream of detailed feedback through the steering wheel, a result says Lotus of bush stiffness being increased in a lateral and not longitudinal direction.
The fitment of a supercharger sees the engine finally realise its potential too. Tractable from barely above tickover, and getting seriously into its stride beyond 2,000rpm, the V6 snarls effortlessly to a 7,200rpm redline, delivering a delicious shove in the back as it does so and making passing slower traffic laughably easy.
The brakes (cross-drilled and vented as standard) are beyond criticism, with perfect feel and more than enough power for road and track use. The latter we can vouch for following an afternoon spent lapping the Monteblanco circuit near Seville.

The freedom of a track also brought with it the chance to try out the Evora's DPM Dynamic Performance Management traction and stability system. "70 per cent Bosch and the last 30 per cent Lotus" according to Lotus principal vehicle dynamics engineer Alan Clark, DPM debuts on the S but will become standard fitment on all Lotus cars from January. With three settings (on, Sport and off) it works brilliantly, reigning in all understeer and oversteer in the "on" setting, allowing a small degree of slip in Sport mode and disengaging completely (rather than "sleeping" until it thinks it's needed as some systems do) when you want to indulge in some tail-out, tyre smoking hooliganism.
So far this is all sounding rather rosy for the Lotus, but it is not without fault. Build quality, while much better than earlier Evoras, is still not perfect. Jumping between cars I encountered two with loose gear knobs and one where the carpet was flailing around in the driver's footwell.
The gearchange isn't the best in the business either, not enjoying being rushed during the second to third change, and the ergonomics, from a very tight pedal box to a complete inability to see any switches let alone anything out of the tiny rear window, are no better than before (which is to say woeful).
You tend to forgive the Evora S these faults the moment you remember how well it goes, stops, rides and steers though. Very few other modern cars offer their drivers such subtle degrees of information and no other sports car immerses you in the simple pleasures of driving quite this thoroughly.
Better than a Porsche then? As a car to drive everyday, no: a Cayman S or basic 911 might not reach the Evora S's dynamic brilliance, but they are really not far off at all and boast many other worthy qualities (dials that you can actually read and a wing mirror switch that adult hands can operate to name but two).
As a weekend toy, something to bring out every now and then to clear the cobwebs, however, the Evora S is king.
If Lotus can instill this kind of magic in its new model army and at the same time iron out the idiosyncrasies then we could be about to witness something very special indeed.
Tested: Lotus Evora S, 3.5-litre V6, supercharged, petrol
Price/on sale: from £57,550/now
Power/torque: 345bhp at 7,000rpm/295lb ft @ 4,500rpm
Top speed: 172mph
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 4.6sec
Fuel economy: 19.4mpg (Urban)
CO2 emissions: 239g/km
VED band: L (£750 first year)
Verdict: A few small faults rob the Evora S of its fifth star, but this is nevertheless one of the great driver's cars of our time.
Telegraph rating: Four out of five

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